Thursday, July 17, 2014

Open Space/Recreation/Conservation Workshop

As part of the "Great Reach" series of meetings to gather information and provide community outreach during the process of updating the City of Costa Mesa General Plan - a process that has been going on for a year - last night City staff and consultants conducted a workshop for the Open Space/Recreation and Conservation elements of the General Plan at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center.
The program was divided into two segments.  Following a brief introduction by Gary Armstrong, Director of Development Services and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, the four dozen or so attendees were invited to circulate around the room and observe the various exhibits and, if interested in doing so, to indicate preferences in the options provided by placing stickers in the appropriate spots.  I've provided images of the results of that activity for your information.  Click on each to enlarge them.
Natural Community Resources
Park And Recreation Facilities
Waste Reduction
Improve Air Quality
Then a more formal program commenced with an extensive question and answer period.  Armstrong, Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz and consultant Laura Stetson guided the discussions.  I thought it was informative that many, if not most, of the questions seemed to revolve around Fairview Park.  That's not unexpected, since there is a parallel activity - the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee - currently underway in which suggestions for the future of that park are being fleshed-out.  In fact, Stetson had to re-direct the discussion to cover broader issues before wrapping the meeting up with more Fairview Park questions.  The meeting lasted until 8:30 and, when I left shortly thereafter, staff and consultants were still answering questions from concerned residents.
Existing Bike Routes and Trails
Although this meeting was well-advertised, I was surprised that so few young people attended.  I thought this might be a chance for concerned residents to speak up about what we're told is a severe shortage of playing fields in our city.  Instead, most of the attendees were older - some even as old as me!  And, ironically, one of the few young people who attended - two, I believe - asked a couple questions about keeping Fairview Park natural.
Conservation and Sustainability Programs
The ratio of City staff and consultants to attendees was about 3 to 1 - three attendees per staff/consultant.  That made for some very good conversations during the early segment.
Park Acreage Statistics
There were many of the "usual suspects" in attendance - those folks who take time out of busy lives to do their homework, attend meetings and express their informed views on important issues.   Attendees included: Councilwoman Wendy Leece;  Council candidates and frequent attendees to most important city meetings, Harold Weitzberg and Jay Humphrey;  Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee members Anna Vrska and Dennis Popp;  Estancia High School Principal Kirk Bauermeister, who sat quietly and paid close attention to the program;  Cindy Black and Kim Hendricks, regulars at the Fairview Committee meetings; Eastsider Beth Refakes, who also tries to make every important meeting and participate in the process;  George Sakioka, a major landowner in the north part of town, participated;  Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Byron de Arakal hovered in the background, absorbing the comments of the public and staff;  Commissioner Robert Graham, an ardent Fairview Park defender.
However, there were many new faces - folks who have attended very few, if any, meetings in the past.  They are concerned citizens, eager to get information and provide their views - just what this kind of outreach is intended to accomplish.
Part of the presentation included a discussion of the pending updating of the Master Plan of Parks and Recreation.  The image below explains some of that information and provides the timetable for completion of that project.  According to staff, the results of the process  the Fairview Committee is undertaking will become part of the process of the Master Plan update.
Master Plan of Parks and Recreation Update
According to the staff, the next General Plan meeting will take place August 27th, and will be announced as that date approaches.  We'll let you know here, too.
In the meantime, the next meeting of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee will be held on August 6th at the Neighborhood Community Center beginning at 6:00 p.m.  This one, and the next one right after Labor Day, promise to be action-packed.  The committee recommendations for the future of the Southeast Quadrant of the park - where the large parking lot and all the Orange County Model Engineers facilities are located - will be discussed.  This is the segment the "we need more playing fields" contingent of the committee have been waiting for.  I fully expect the meeting to be attended by representatives of organized youth sports, on hand to plead their case, as well as park protectors to offer a counterpoint.  If you care at all about the future of Fairview Park I suggest you attend the next couple meetings and voice your opinion.
Fairview Park Southeast Quadrant List of Possible Options

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